There’s nothing quite like sitting in a friend’s car, watching him use the backup camera and feeling a surge of jealousy. Reversing cameras increase driver awareness and make evading tight spaces a breeze – everyone can benefit. But you don’t have to be jealous of anyone because you can easily add a rear view camera to your “old” car.
Let me get something straight before we get into the weeds. People tend to use “rear camera” and “rear camera” interchangeably, but they are two different products. A backup camera turns on when you back up your vehicle, while a backup camera gives you a live feed (or recordings) of drivers behind you.
Yes, you can add a backup camera to your car
While rear cameras might seem like a modern luxury, they really aren’t that advanced. In fact, they’ve been around for decades. We’ve just reached the point where LCD displays and small digital cameras are affordable enough to put in every new car.
Because backup cameras are so simple, you can install them in any car, truck, SUV, or RV. Aftermarket backup cameras are incredibly common, and universal options work in just about any vehicle. Also, brands like Pioneer and Kenwood are selling additional rear cameras for their head units, allowing for seamless upgrades.
However, you don’t even need a fancy head unit with a big screen – there are plenty of backup camera kits that come with an in-dash display or a rear view mirror monitor. However, a nice head unit or “infotainment center” gives you the best experience with a rear camera and often results in a cleaner setup with no visible wires.
I should also note that backup cameras work with trailers. If you’re attaching things to the back of your vehicle every few weeks, a backup camera is a really great investment.
What kind of backup camera should you buy?
Buying a backup camera is a relatively easy task. Sure, you have to worry about features like night vision, but these features are very basic and easy to understand. And while manufacturers sell hundreds of different rear cameras, they all boil down to three distinct form factors.
Here are the three types of backup cameras:
- upgrade cameras: These rear cameras connect directly to your head unit and give you a video feed when you’re reversing. However, they do require a head unit or “infotainment center” that can play videos. (I highly recommend purchasing an additional rear camera from your main unit manufacturer for ease of installation.)
- Cameras with dashboard displays: Some backup camera kits come with a small display that sits on your dash or sticks to your windshield. These kits are usually wireless, so they’re a great inexpensive option if you’re not comfortable with cables.
- Cameras with mirror monitors: For a cleaner setup, you can purchase a camera kit with rearview mirror monitor. This monitor doubles as a mirror and screen. It’s usually wireless and either sits on or replaced your existing rearview mirror.
Once you’ve decided on the right form factor, it’s time to look for features. I highly recommend buying a rear view camera with night vision and parking guidelines. You might also want to buy a wireless camera that eliminates the need to run video cables through your vehicle.
Other features, such as DVR recording or image quality, are up to you. However, if you are planning to buy a camera with a rearview mirror monitor, you might want one with a built-in dash cam.
AUTO-VOX CS-2 Wireless Rear View Camera Kit with Stable Digital Signal 4.3″ Monitor and Backup Camera for Car Truck RV Caravan Motorhome
The AUTO-VOX CS-2 is affordable and easy to install. Simply mount the camera, hardwire it to your brake light, and plug the wireless suction cup monitor into your car’s cigarette lighter socket.
Can you install a rear view camera yourself?
Installing a backup camera is not a difficult task, but it is time-consuming and requires a little experience with cars. Even “wireless” backup cameras require power, and that means your vehicle’s battery must be disconnected in order to splice wires.
Most people should go for a professional installation, which costs at least $100. But if you enjoy working on a car, installing a backup camera is no big deal.
Here is the gist of the process:
- Disconnect your car’s battery
- Mount the reversing camera (usually on your license plate)
- Wire the camera for power (usually to your brake light)
- Run video cables under your door seal to reach your main unit or display
If you purchase an additional display, you may need to hardwire it to your main unit or interior lighting system. However, some add-on displays plug into your cigarette lighter socket for power, which can make installation a relatively quick task when combined with a wireless video system.
I should also note that some supplemental rear cameras, like the ones Kenwood makes for their head units, don’t require a dedicated power source. Instead, they draw power from the video cable plugged into the back of your receiver.
Remember that an electric shock from your car could kill you. If you don’t know how to safely work on a car, consider hiring a professional (or at least a knowledgeable friend) to install your backup camera.
WOLFBOX 12 Inch Mirror Dash Cam Reversing Camera, 1296P Full HD Smart Rear View Mirror for Cars and Trucks, 1080P Dual Cameras for Front and Rear View, Night Vision, Parking Assist, Free 32GB Map and GPS
The WOLFBOX wireless reversing camera has a rearview mirror display that doubles as a dash cam!
Are reversing cameras expensive?
Reversing cameras are shockingly cheap on their own. Most models cost between $30 and $70, with some even less. The problem, of course, is that your older car probably doesn’t have a head unit or “infotainment center” capable of displaying a rear-view camera’s feed.
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to upgrade your main device to use a rear camera. But you’ll have to spend a little more money for a backup camera kit that includes an in-dash video screen or a rear-view mirror with an integrated display.
These kits start at around $120 and are relatively easy to install. However, advanced features (like an integrated dash cam or DVR functionality) will quickly push the price up to $200 or $300. And if you need professional installation, which you probably do, it’ll cost you an extra $100 or more.
If you decide to buy a new head unit with your rear camera, you can expect to pay at least $400 before installing it. And that’s a very conservative estimate – you may need a manufacturer-specific camera for your new head unit, and of course the price of a new head unit depends entirely on what features you want.
HD eRapta ERT01 Rear View Backup Camera License Plate Reversing Camera Universal for Pickup Truck Car SUV 149° Perfect Angle Night Vision 9 Levels Waterproof 720 Image
The eRapta ERT01 universal rear view camera works with most head units and is installed on your license plate. It’s affordable, but it’s not wireless.
This article was previously published on Source link